What to do after your appointment
Your health professional will suggest next steps for you after your initial appointment. Based on the information you provide, and your personal preferences, they might:
- provide an initial diagnosis
- refer you to another health professional or service
- recommend medication
- organise a follow-up appointment or series of appointments.
Getting a referral
There can be many reasons why a health professional will give you a referral. Usually, it will be to see another health professional or specialist for further tests, treatment, or advice. In rare cases, you may be referred for immediate support and access to hospital services.
You can also ask your GP for a mental health treatment plan and referral to a mental health professional. The referral may be for a psychologist, social worker, or an occupational therapist with mental health training. If you have someone specific in mind, you can ask them to refer you directly. If there are waiting times, your GP may refer you to a few different professionals. They may encourage you to see the professional with a shorter wait time.
Your health professional may also suggest you access information or services online. It may be digital mental health resources or online treatment that you can work through at your own pace. You can find a range of trusted Australian resources on this site.
Your GP or psychiatrist may recommend:
- prescription medication – where your prescription is either sent electronically to a pharmacy or you take it there yourself, or
- ‘over the counter’ medication – which you can get from a pharmacy without a prescription.
There are often different brands available for medication. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor and pharmacist about the options available to find what will work best for you. Always follow the directions from your GP or psychiatrist and on the medicine label.
After your first appointment with a health professional, you will usually need at least one follow-up appointment. Often, you’ll need a series of appointments if you’re trying to access treatment for mental health challenges. These are sometimes arranged during your first appointment, or booked one at a time.
The purpose of a follow-up is usually to:
- review the results of a test or treatment
- check in after seeing another mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist
- track your progress with your treatment plan, and make any adjustments or new plans if needed.
Let your health professional know about the treatment strategies you have found helpful or unhelpful. They can help you to work through any difficulties or suggest alternatives.
Following through with your appointments will give you the best pathway for treatment. Your GP is in the best position to coordinate your care and you should feel comfortable about regular check-ins with them.
What to do between appointments
To get the most out of your follow-up visits, try taking note of:
- what you have done since your last appointment
- any changes you’ve experienced since your last appointment, especially when starting a new medication
- any further questions you may have or what you would like to get out of the follow-up.
If the wait between appointments is making you feel like you’re losing momentum or getting worse, there are things you can do:
Choosing the right health professional
If you feel like you aren’t connecting with a health professional the way you would like, try visiting another to see if they provide a better fit. Building trust with them is important so that you feel comfortable sharing your challenges. You can also seek a second opinion if you want more confidence in the advice provided by your healthcare team.